Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Race Report - Louisville Marathon

There are well organized small marathon races and there are not so good organized small marathons. Some have great locations and great amenities, while others do not. I would put this one toward the lower half. Not the worst marathon I have run but below average.

Last Sunday was the Louisville Marathon in Louisville, Kentucky. I decided to run this race because of a few reasons. First off, I could then scratch Kentucky off my list of states. I now have 14 states completed. I also wanted a smaller marathon because I generally enjoy them, maybe not this small (only 113 finishers), but better than the huge marathons like Chicago or New York. Third, the course looked to be a good one, mostly flat and suited for a faster time. No disappointment here. My friends Mike and Paul ran this one a few years ago so I didn't go into it blindly.

Before I go into detail on how I ran, let me go over some of the Pros and Cons of this race. Here are some of the Pros: The course was good for a fast time. A little tight in some locations, especially in the first 6 1/2 miles when the half marathoners were running as well, but clear after that. A few small inclines to work the muscles differently but nothing steep or big. Besides the first and last 100 meters, the road and paths was in good condition except for a few points through the wooded areas where there were a lot of leaves and other items that have fallen off trees that were slight hazards. Some shade on the course but not at the end. Another Pro is hotel location to the start/finish. I stayed at a Ramada that was only 1/3 of a mile to the start/finish paid under $70 per night. The medal was also mostly cool. No mention of the year on it, but cool. They also had a free post race massage which came in handy before my 6+ hour drive home. The volunteers at the aid stations were great and even gave out smaller bottles of water which made it easier to still run and drink.

Cons are the city of Louisville. You would think that a race called the Louisville Marathon would bring out a few spectators. Nope, hardly anyone along the course. The Expo was . . . wait, there was no expo, only a packet pickup that was extremely hard to find. Nothing to look at there, just pick up your bag and shirt and go. the first and last 100 meters were basically a joke for a marathon. It was down a sort of gravel driveway going right into what looked like an older apartment building or hotel next to a baseball field. There was an open covered shelter afterwards but besides bananas, a rice and bean mix, and water / heed, I didn't see anything. Another Con would be help on the course direction you were to go. Later in the race at about mile 21, I didn't know if I was on the course or not. The mile markers were only spray painted on the road and easily missed as well as course marking. If there wasn't anyone close in front of you, you could get lost easily. There were great volunteers at the water stops but they could have used maybe 2 more to make them closer. No water stops in the last 2 1/2 miles. The website is also a joke. No info at all on the Louisvillemarathon.org site at all and the other site has limited info at best. There is no course map on the site and the only course map I found was on MarathonGuide.com and it was outdated and had a different start and finish location. It really isn't hard to get a website with basic information so there is no real excuse for this.

Not a Pro or a Con would be the shirt. It is a cotton T which I like, but unless you really knew what it was, you wouldn't guess it is a marathon shirt. No advertisements which is nice but they gave me the wrong size at packet pickup. No frills with this race. There was also a chicken (Rooster actually) that was roaming around near the start/finish line. It must have wondered what was going on as everyone passed by at the start.

So how did I run? OK, not bad but not good. The weather played a role in that as it was pretty hot by the end and sunny the entire race. I did break 4 hours (my 10th time) and finished in 3:57:23 but struggled near the end. I did finish with the highest overall placement in a marathon I have ever had, 23rd place out of 113. I also was in 5th out of 16 in my age group. Funny thing is that I looked at all the other age groups and I would have placed in the top 3 in all the others. Oh well.

Temps at the start were about 55F so I started with just my singlet. Slightly chilled but running soon gave to sweat. I started easy and did the first 2 miles in 8:53 pace. I was in a crowd of runners as the half marathoners were running at the same time. The first 3 miles are down an open road which I wanted to name "Roadkill Road" as I saw quite a few squirrels (Doug from 'Up' would be so happy!). After 3 miles, we went through the downtown area along the Ohio River. Louisville really screwed up when planning the city because the put a Freeway right along the banks of the river so we basically ran under it. We ran right though and outdoor Church service going on at about mile 4 which was interesting.

About mile 4 I was running with a guy named Scott for awhile. Scott was running his 5th marathon and trying to break 4 hours for the first time. He did it with less than a minute to spare. Good Job, Scott!

We ran along a bike path near the river for awhile and all I could think of is how Louisville is really messing up by not making this a place to be. It was an over grown mess of weeds with graffiti and a beautiful view of the river. After passing 6 1/2 miles, the half marathoners turned around and it was only us full runners left. I picked it up a bit as I really wanted to try to get down to a time of 3:45 if possible. By mile 9, I began passing people as I dropped the pace to closer to 8:30 per mile. I found myself running with Christopher for about 5 miles. We chatted and I found out this was his 50th State! How cool is that.

We passed the half way point (Not marked out) at about 1:55. The average pace for me got down to as low at 8:43 per mile. Near 14, someone was calling off the unofficial place we were in. He said I was in 34th place at the time. I ran well through 16 passing a few people.

Miles 16 to 19 were a little struggle. It was getting pretty warm now and the winds had picked up pretty good. I didn't feel the best but hoped it would go away and it basically did. In miles 19 and 20, I passed a few more runners and I knew I was somewhere near 25th place. I felt better too though my pace does not show it. My miles were closer to 9:15 to 9:30 now. At just passed mile 20, I passed someone and then ran by myself for a long time. I got to about miles 22 (under the freeway again) and thought I was lost or possibly off course. there was no one directing the runners and I had to look for duct tape markers on cement, not easy to see. I finally recognized something and then knew I was still on course. Not a good feeling not knowing though.

After mile 23, I really began to struggle as we were directly in the sun and it was probably in the low to mid 70's. My pace dropped to just over 10:00 and I couldn't wait for the next aid station. the last one was 2 1/2 miles from the finish so I made a deal with myself to go to mile 25 and then take a short break. I was running by myself from mile 20 on with no one in sight in front of me or behind me (though I didn't look back). I suddenly saw someone walking way in front of me and thought maybe I could pass them. I caught him by mile 25 and took my short break a little passed him. Suddenly I was passed by someone and I tried to keep with her but couldn't. So much for no one passing me from mile 10 on!

I made it in with 2 1/2 minutes to spare under 4 but still disappointed it wasn't faster. I struggle in the heat and I had bad luck with the weather. Nothing I can do about it though so I just dealt with it. I was happy though that it was under 4 hours.

After the race, I walked around for a bit before sitting down in the shade and deciding I would like to free post race massage being offered. I was next in line when I started to feel really bad. At first I thought I was going to throw up but then I just felt really pale. I was on the ground and I am sure I looked really white in the face. Some people were asking if I needed Medical so I must have looked bad. But a couple minutes later, it came back. I think my blood pressure must have just dropped suddenly, it has happened to me before after a marathon. the post race massage got the blood flowing and it felt back to just after marathon shape. The massage on the legs did feel really good.

I took a couple bananas and headed back to my room for a late checkout shower before getting in the car for the 6 1/2 hour drive home. And now 2 days later, I am still a little sore. more sore than I usually am 2 days after a marathon but not too bad. I will try an easy run tomorrow.

Not much time to recover as my next marathon is in 1 1/2 weeks in Middleton, WI. The Haunted Hustle Marathon. I ran this one last year and it was pretty good. Plus I hope I can run some of it with my friend Jamie who lives near Middleton. I am not sure if I will try for a fast one or not. We will see how the recovery goes and if the weather cooperates. Last year it was great weather.

So Marathon 36 is in the bank now and State 14. I am not sure what the next new state will be but the next few marathons are already on the schedule. Should be a fun next couple of months coming up.

Keep on Running!!!

1 comment:

Bethk said...

Congratulations on another impressive marathon! I hear what you are saying about the small races. We are doing a really small marathon in Maui in January and I heard that in 2009 the packet pick-up was in a shabby apartments. Hmm. You never know what you are going to get, but sounds like the course was good and hey, you got a medal. Nice finish!